Reviews

Good Calls

In The Fullness of Time

"In this YA dystopian thriller, a teenage girl fighting against a fascist government learns an astonishing truth that changes everything. After environmental disaster and ensuing wars, the future in the United States—now just “States,” divided into tyrant-ruled Factions—seems grim for most. Air and water are unclean, most animals are extinct, food is scarce, and homelessness is rife. Seventeen-year-old Somerset Whitman is more fortunate than most; her family are clerics, and for generations they’ve lived in a huge “Tempedral,” where, Somerset says, “It’s our job to take care of the ornate building and brainwash seekers into requesting Reverie”—a event that no one returns from. Secretly, Somerset works with a resistance cell to sabotage the government, which is already on shaky ground due to low food supplies. She also has a new responsibility in taking care of Monica, an orphaned little girl, and has a burgeoning romantic interest in Jake, the piratical new cell leader. Amid growing unrest and crackdowns, Somerset and others must take refuge in a safe house: “I don’t know for sure what’s happening in the other Factions, but it’s end-of-days outside of here,” reports Jake. Just as things look bleakest, Somerset discovers the secret of what Reverie has become. Although Russell (Same As It Never Was, 2018, etc.) combines some familiar elements of YA dystopian and romance fiction, she does so with intelligence and energy. For example, it turns out that society’s collapse began after the destruction of disease-bearing mosquitoes—which had unintended consequences. Russell also creates a believably paranoid atmosphere and shows how propaganda and advertising contribute to propping up fascist governments. However, the book never feels didactic thanks to Somerset’s naturalistic narration and well-rounded characterization. For example, she’s very much a stereotypical teenage girl in how she avoids chores, but she’s also a brave fighter and protective toward Monica. The cliffhanger ending suggests that further installments are planned, which would be welcome." Kirkus Reviews

"In the Fullness of Time is what the best YA dystopian novel strives to be; a prism through which present-day issues can be explored that leaves readers-young and old-satisfied, entertained, and yearning for more. Set in a future world destroyed by chemical alterations to the biosphere, seventeen-year-old Somerset Whitman struggles to make sense of a theocratic government that values its own comfort over the lives of its citizens. Yearning to reconcile what she sees and hears on the crowded streets to the official 'States' position, she enters the resistance. There, she learns truths that force her to question family and loyalties. Russell's simple prose allows Somerset to tell you her story through the unblinking eye of a youth emerging into adulthood." Connie Johnson Hambley, author of The Jessica Trilogy

"The ruined landscapes and corrupt inner sanctums in Carolyn R. Russell's In the Fullness of Time are depicted with a cinematic flair that pairs beautifully with her gift for suspenseful storytelling. A riveting adventure that rockets toward an ending I'm still thinking about. Highly recommended." Steve Blackwood, actor, director, screenwriter, and author of The Blackwood Sessions

"In the Fullness of Time's dystopian world evokes an evil worthy of its fiery protagonist's rebellion. In Somerset Whitman we have a heroine for the ages: irreverent, compassionate, and unstoppable. In the Fullness of Time is chock-full of indelible characters, and the fast pace of the action makes for a pageturningly addictive read." Elizabeth Lorayne, author of the Piratess Tilly series and The Historical Heroines Book: Pioneering Women in Science

Same As It Never Was

"Adjusting to a new town becomes especially hard for a teen once she suspects a service club is up to something sinister in this YA mystery... An entertaining tale aggrandized by an unshakable protagonist and the family she’s thankfully stuck with.” Kirkus Reviews

“Carolyn R. Russell sticks a perfect landing with her humorous mystery, Same as It Never Was. Quinn Bard, her smart, plucky protagonist, grants readers a close look into the messy life of a teen girl transplanted from Boston to a small New Hampshire town. The repartee in Quinn's intellectual family is delightful and the young characters are well-drawn and true-to-life as they go about their adventures. A must-read!” Edith Maxwell, Agatha-and Macavity-nominated author of the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and the Country-Store Mysteries

“Same as it Never Was is a riveting mystery with a winning mix of humor and adventure. Especially satisfying is Russell's imaginative exploration of the bonds that bind its spirited heroine, Quinn Bard, and her quirky family. A wonderfully engaging book.” Elizabeth Lorayne, author of Piratess Tilly and The Historical Heroines Coloring Book: Pioneering Women in Science from the 18th and 19th centuries

The Films of Joel and Ethan Coen

"Comprehensive...in-depth analysis." Gadfly

"Provides a wonderful way for a fan of the Coens to become intimate with the carefully layered films." Burlington County Times